How to install and use the Windows package manager

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If you’ve ever spent time using today’s best Linux distros, you’ll be familiar with the idea of ​​a package manager. And when you upgrade to Windows 10, you probably miss this package manager a lot.

There have been options on Windows 10 for quite some time now, like the awesome third-party solution, Chocolatey. But now Microsoft has its own, known as Windows Package Manager.

It recently hit version 1.0 at Build 2021 after a full year of preview. It doesn’t come with Windows yet, but it’s ready to go and doesn’t take a long time to install it on your machine. Here’s what you need to know.

Windows Package Manager

(Image credit: TechRadar)

What is Windows Package Manager?

Windows Package Manager is a command line tool for managing software that can be used on Windows 10 through PowerShell or the command prompt. The implementation is very similar to a Linux package manager, although naturally, since it’s on Windows, there are some differences.

The Windows Package Manager does not host any packages itself. Instead, its users create manifests that are added to this central repository, and those manifests are then adopted to retrieve the software from its usual location on the web.

It could be Github, it could be a software developer’s website, it could even be the Microsoft Store. One of the strengths of Windows Package Manager is the ease of creating a manifesto to install software.

Of course, it’s not just about installing things on a PC. During the preview period, the list of features grew significantly. As it reaches version 1.0, it is now a very viable proposition to use for managing software on your own PC or on a number of remote machines if you are working in the company.

How to install the Windows package manager

If you were a former Windows Package Manager user during the preview phase, you don’t need to do anything special to get version 1.0. It still ships the same, so assuming you’ve downloaded app installer updates from the Microsoft Store or are on an insider version of Windows 10, you should be good to go. from. You can check by typing ‘winget –info’ in the terminal.

For newcomers, there is now a more streamlined approach to installing Windows Package Manager. In the blog post announcing v1.0 there is a direct link, but you can also go to the Github page and get it from there. It’s worth going through Github anyway, as there’s a ton of useful information out there.

Get the latest version on the versions page by downloading the ‘.appxbundle’ file. Once downloaded, just open it like any Windows executable, and Windows 10’s built-in “App Installer” will do the rest.

Windows Package Manager

(Image credit: TechRadar)

How to find and install applications with Windows Package Manager

One of the most basic features of Windows Package Manager and the main reason you are going to install it is to install applications on a Windows 10 PC. But Windows Package Manager can also help you find them. apps you are looking for.

The repository currently resides on Github, but it’s hardly a user-friendly experience to have to go through a huge list. Instead, there are two important commands to remember:

winget install xx
winget search xx

All Windows Package Manager commands are referred to using the term “winget”. So, for example, if you want to search for Microsoft PowerShell, you need to enter this command:

winget search PowerShell

Windows Package Manager

(Image credit: TechRadar)

You will then be presented with a table showing all the packages that match your search term. The specific ID you need to download it will be included. You don’t always need it, but with something like PowerShell where multiple versions are available, you will. To download it, you must enter:

winget install Microsoft.PowerShell

Alternatively, if you prefer something with a nice user interface, there is a great third-party tool called winstall.app that you should check out. It pulls the entire repository from Windows Package Manager, but makes it easy to navigate. There is also the added benefit of being able to generate the necessary installation scripts for multiple applications at once just to copy and paste.

Windows Package Manager

(Image credit: TechRadar)

How to uninstall apps with Windows package manager

The uninstall feature was one of the latest additions during the Windows Package Manager preview process, which needed to be enabled manually in the settings JSON file. From version 1.0 this is no longer the case and the functionality is integrated.

To uninstall an application using Windows Package Manager, the command pattern is:

winget uninstall xx

That’s all we can say about it. The functionality appears to be limited to packages previously installed with Windows Package Manager at this time.

Summary

This only scratches the surface of what can be achieved with Windows Package Manager, but at its core it is designed to find, install, and now remove apps from a Windows 10 PC.

There are a lot more commands to use and the whole project is open-source so you can closely monitor its progress and even contribute to its future.


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